A federal judge in Boston has affirmed a jury award against Pfizer Inc. (PFE) for violating a U.S. anti-racketeering law by promoting the epilepsy drug Neurontin for unapproved uses such as migraines, and ordered the company to pay $142.1 million in damages, Bloomberg News reported Friday.
U.S. District Judge Patti Saris on Thursday agreed with the jury's finding last March that Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc. and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals deserved the award in light of claims that Pfizer illegally marketed Neurontin. Saris tripled the jury's award of $47.3 million under a provision of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO.
The judge also denied Kaiser's request for an estimated $76 million in interest on the award.
Pfizer spokesman Chris Loder said the company was pleased with Saris's decision to deny Kaiser's bid for pre-judgment interest. "As we maintained all along, Pfizer has strong defenses in this case and intends to appeal," he said.
New York-based Pfizer is facing more than 300 suits accusing it of illegally promoting Neurontin or hiding its health risks. The company also has settled at least two suits alleging the drug played a role in users' suicides, paying almost $400,000 in one of the accords, people familiar with the deals told Bloomberg last year.
Warner-Lambert Co. developed and marketed Neurontin for several years before Pfizer acquired that company in 2000. Four years later, Warner-Lambert pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $430 million to resolve off-label marketing allegations by the U.S. Justice Department.
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